Scotland team named to face Wales

Head Coach Gregor Townsend has named six changes to the Scotland team that started against Australia in November for this Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations opener against Wales at the Principality Stadium (3 February, kick-off 2.15pm) – live on BBC.

Glasgow Warriors full-back Stuart Hogg – a late withdrawal from November’s win over the Wallabies – and Newcastle Falcons centre Chris Harris [right] are the two changes to the back division (the latter making his first start), while Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh, Ben Toolis and Cornell du Preez come into the starting pack.

Props Welsh and Reid last featured for Scotland in 2015 and last year’s summer tour respectively, while du Preez and Toolis have been elevated from their replacement status in the Wallabies win.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend, said: “We’ve selected a squad that we believe can start the NatWest 6 Nations championship with the intensity and speed required to win in Cardiff.

“Last year’s championship highlighted that every game is a fierce competition and that all teams have to play at their very best to win away from home. Delivering that level of performance has been firmly in our thoughts during our preparations this week.

“We’re expecting a really physical game against a very good team. Wales have one of the best defences in the game and an attack that sees forwards passing much more and a structure that enables backs to get on ball.

“I’m sure it’ll be great occasion to kick off this year’s championship and we can’t wait to get started.”

An otherwise unchanged back line sees scrum-half Ali Price start his ninth Test in the past ten Scotland matches to partner stand-off Finn Russell at half-back.

Centre Huw Jones makes his first appearance for Scotland at inside-centre (where he made nine out of ten starts for Western Province in last year’s Currie Cup winning season), accommodating incoming outside-centre Harris.

Sale Sharks wing Byron McGuigan [right] retains his place alongside Tommy Seymour and Hogg after his late inclusion against Australia yielded two tries and a man-of-the-match award.

Hooker Stuart McInally starts in the front-row between Welsh and Reid, with captain John Barclay and Hamish Watson returning to partner du Preez in the back-row.

Other notable inclusions on the bench see 2017 British & Irish Loins tourist Greig Laidlaw back in Scotland colours for the first time since last year’s tournament, while replacement hooker Scott Lawson’s last involvement was in 2014.

At the opposite end of the experience spectrum Edinburgh Rugby prop Murray McCallum (21) could make his debut if called up from the bench.

Scotland team to play Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff
NatWest 6 Nations Round 1: Saturday 2 February (kick-off 2.15pm) – live on BBC

15. Stuart Hogg VICE CAPTAIN (Glasgow Warriors) – 55 caps

14. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 39 caps
13. Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) – 1 cap
12. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 11 caps
11. Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) – 2 caps

10. Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 11 caps

1. Gordon Reid (London Irish) – 27 caps
2. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) – 12 caps
3. Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons) – 11 caps
4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby) – 7 caps
5. Jonny Gray VICE CAPTAIN (Glasgow Warriors) – 38 caps
6. John Barclay CAPTAIN (Scarlets) – 66 caps
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 15 caps
8. Cornell du Preez (Edinburgh Rugby) – 5 caps

16. Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons) – 46 caps
17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
18. Murray McCallum (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
19. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – 18 caps
20. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
21. Greig Laidlaw (ASM Clermont Auvergne) – 58 caps
22. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 28 caps
23. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 29 caps